[…] have followed the development of portable, and affordable, solar panels with interest – even haute couture. There are good panels available from Brunton (who also have good guides to power usage); Sunware […]
Sunware solar panels claim to have the highest power output to surface ratio of semi-flexible panels currently on the market – 27, 30 and 40 watts per panel. They are specifically designed for marine applications
27 Watt Panel
Peak Output – 27watts
Max Current – 1.96amps @ 13.8volts
Open circuit volts – 20.9volts
Qty of cells – 36
Dimensions – 585x465mm
Weight – 3.2kg
I don’t know if you have come across this battery or the claims being made by Lifeline, the manufacturers.
Thick plates for deep cycle use
No maintenance required ever
Double the cycles than a standard Gel battery
Can be mounted in any orientation
Recharges 30% faster
No upper charging level limit
5 year warranty
What caught my attention apart from the price (less than GEL) and the charging claims – which by the way makes them more suited to solar panel charging systems…was the safety aspect – “No Venting”. When batteries are mounted for bow thrusters or an anchor windlass they are often sited under the bed or at least somewhere within the fore cabin. So any improvement in safety here would be of interest.
A conventional electrical system would consist of two battery banks (one for engine starting, the other for house loads), a blocking diode split charger and alternator controller. The diode would split charge between the two battery banks while the alternator controller would develop high charging voltage to ensure rapid battery charging.
With this Lifeline system you could have the two battery banks and then a VSR (Voltage Sensitive Relay) that’s all. The system would work in exactly the same way and would also charge as quickly. While the initial battery cost is higher than conventional batteries, the expensive split charger and alternator controller isn’t needed. What’s more, the system would be easier, and less expensive overall, to install.
Inverters Due to Lifeline’s low internal resistance, response to high power surge demands on
inverters is better matched. Conventional thick plate lead/acid batteries or gel cells
take time to respond to, and deliver high currents; Lifeline provides high current
instantly preventing the surge from motors, power tools etc tripping out the
inverter’s low battery cut-out (this often happens even if the conventional battery
bank isn’t flat). Leading inverter manufacturers recommend Lifeline for professional
installations of their products.
Bow thrusters Bow thrusters require high surge power to start (in the same way as inverters,
above) making Lifeline entirely appropriate for this application. However, how long
does a bow thruster run for? Typically, 3 minutes maximum. Say the thruster was
rated at 4kW at 12V (which equates to around 333 amps); Remember though that
this is an hourly rate (333 amps), so divide it by 60 to get an approximate 5.5 Ah per
Download the Merlin Split Charging Guide here for more info.
These are good value for money and reasonably weather proof too. You can use them inside and they will take a charge from sunlight coming through a window but if you do leave the panel on the coach roof or anywhere outside put a bead of clear silicone gel around the edges of the solar plate and connector. Mounts virtually anywhere, suction cups included (no extra mounting devices needed)
All Sunsei solar panels in the SE135 / SE-400 / SE1200 range are equipped with a built-in diode, which prevents any reverse current so they cannot perversely drain your batteries. Touch-action indicator lets you know your panel is charging
Sunsei SE 135 = 135mA /2w (can connect direct to the battery – no controller required)
Sunsei SE400 = 400mA / 6w (can connect direct to the battery – no controller required)
Sunsei SE1200 = 1200mA / 18w (needs separate charge controller before connecting to the battery)
What do you get in the box :-
1 cigarette lighter adapter
1 battery clamp connector
1 set suction cups
10 year power warranty
With the compelling need to reduce our consumption of normal power sources that depend on fossil fuels it is a good idea to do your bit by not plugging in at the marina and becoming a little more self sufficient when it comes to keeping your batteries charged.
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